International Herald Tribune - France
AP TOKYO: The number of Japanese households on welfare hit a record high in January amid mounting job losses and an ever-deepening recession, ...
TOKYO: The number of Japanese households on welfare hit a record high in January amid mounting job losses and an ever-deepening recession, a major national daily said Sunday.
Almost 1.17 million households received welfare benefits during the month, with new applications for government assistance jumping 30 percent from December, according to calculations by the Asahi newspaper.
Strangled by the collapse in global export demand, Japan is now mired in what officials are calling the worst recession since World War II. Its economy — the world's second largest — shrank at an annual pace of 12.7 percent in the October-December quarter, more than triple the slide in the U.S. during the same period.
Sunday's data showed that welfare applications climbed particularly sharply in regions where auto and electronics factories are concentrated. In central Japan's Aichi prefecture, home to Toyota Motor Corp. and its many suppliers, applications surged 72 percent in January from the previous month, the Asahi said.
Japanese manufacturers have been extremely quick to adjust to the deteriorating conditions. Companies in recent years have hired more short-term dispatch workers and fewer permanent employees, making it considerably easier to slim down when needed.
Major exporters including Toyota and Sony Corp. — both of which are forecasting annual losses — have reduced shifts, suspended factory lines and announced thousands of job cuts over the past few months.
A recent government report estimated that nearly 158,000 "non-regular" employees in Japan's manufacturing sector will have lost their jobs between October and March.